The Best Soups in the World

The Best Soups in the World

by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
January 29, 2010

This month’s winners are The Dude and Kat!

Below is the original Baking Friday post.


Scroll down to enter a comment, and click “submit” after the preview appears on screen. Send us your answer by midnight tonight for the chance to win a copy of The Best Soups in the World (Wiley 2009). Winners will be contacted via email. This Baking Friday is open to participants living in all 50 states.

It’s the perfect season for soups. In the chill of January, what could be better than making a bowl of your favorite soup? Well, actually, with The Best Soups of the World, containing more than 300 recipes, you can make a different favorite soup daily. James Beard Cookbook of the Year award-winning author Clifford A. Wright has created the ultimate soup cookbook including staple favorites like lobster stew and more exotic flavors like Tunisian spicy egg-drop soup. Check out the sample recipe below.

And enter this week’s Baking Friday to win your copy of The Best Soups in the World and keep your tummy warm with something savory!

Maine Lobster Stew
— From Clifford A. Wright’s The Best Soups in the World

FIRST, BE AWARE THAT LOBSTER STEW, like clam chowder, is a two-day affair. The first day is for preparing it; then it goes overnight in the refrigerator for its “seasoning.” It’s hard to believe that this simple soup was once considered poor people’s food in Maine. The great Maine writer Stephen King, whose family was poor, describes how his mother kept lobster stew on the stove but out of embarrassment would hide it away when company came. The scene appears in his short story “The Reach.”

As best I can make out, lobster stew is what they call lobster chowder in Maine. But one should be careful about a proper Maine lobster stew, because many recipes are called Maine lobster chowder or stew simply because they have lobster from Maine in them. Those are not Maine lobster stews. Although all those fanciful recipes might taste just fine, it is important that we make this stew as a Downeaster would, and that means simply. The Pulitzer Prize– winning Maine poet Robert P. T. Coffin (1892–1955) advised that lobster stew should be half lobster and half liquid. Sometimes you will find white wine or sherry in lobster stew. This harks back to the first lobster stew recipe I’m familiar with, the one in the Accomplished Cook by Robert May, published in London in 1685, which uses claret.

[Makes 4 to 5 servings]

Two 2-pound live lobsters (yields about 18 ounces lobster meat)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons very dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Oyster crackers for garnish (optional)

  1. The day before you plan to serve, in a stockpot, bring 1 inch of water to a boil over high heat, then add the live lobsters, partially covered, and steam for 15 minutes. Remove the lobsters and when they are cool enough to handle, crack them and remove all the meat from the arms, claws, body, legs, and fan tail. Chop into pieces not larger than ¾ inch. Set aside along with any tomalley and coral you find in the lobster, reserving the shells.
  2. Place the shells in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 1 hour. Remove and discard the lobster shells and strain the broth, setting aside 1 cup.
  3. In a large pot, melt 5 tablespoons butter over high heat, then add the lobster meat and cook, stirring, until bubbling vigorously, about 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the cream and milk. Add the reserved 1 cup of lobster broth and the sherry and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until tiny bubbles appear on the edges. Turn the heat off. Stir in the reserved lobster tomalley and coral, let cool, and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Bring water to a boil over high heat in the lower portion of a double-boiler. Pour the lobster stew into the top part of the double-boiler and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot but not bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and once it has melted, serve with crackers, if using.


Comments (13)

dona mandel

Jan 29, 09:36 AM

right now it is a toss-up between mushroom barley soup and butternut squash soup.


Jan 29, 09:39 AM

Easy: the white bean and bacon soup from Wichcraft. I’d never even thought of adding bacon to white bean soup (growing up on the classic white bean/rosemary combo), but it’s genius. Plus, in my last job that I hated, that cup of soup was literally the only good part of my day. Wow, I wish the lunch options in DC were as good…

Grant Vingoe

Jan 29, 09:58 AM

The mixed seafood or lobster panroast at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central.Succulent pieces of fish, with a tangy sause and lots of cream served pronto at the counter.


Jan 29, 10:44 AM

sulung tang at gammiok is simple but delicious — especially when you are sick.

The Dude

Jan 29, 11:41 AM

Californians looking for east-coast chowders of yore can find their craving at two gems: (1) Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing (north of Monterey), and (2) the lesser-known Splash Cafe (San Luis Obispo). I’ll drive hours for this stuff. Damn, now I’m in virtual clam chowder heaven and it’s only breakfast time…


Jan 29, 11:57 AM

Sinigang- a tamarind-based soup made with pork, shrimp or beef and filled with hearty Filipino vegetables such as mustard greens, eggplant and green beans. This sour soup warms your soul on cold winter days!


Jan 29, 12:18 PM

Proper Sopa de Limon. Versatile as I “crave” it in cold Northwest USA winters and enjoy it in our long day Summers with a salad from our garden.

By the way, its great with Sparkling Wine.

Julia Ames

Jan 29, 02:12 PM

potato and leek or Gazpacho. Does the broth of a bowl of muscles in a tomato and wine sauce count? Mmmmmmmm.


Jan 29, 02:48 PM

Marco Canora’s pasta e fagioli, from his book Salt to Taste. It’s too thick for my son’s taste, but perfect on a really cold day like today when you want hearty.


Jan 29, 07:16 PM

double-boiled chicken soup


Jan 29, 09:03 PM

French onion!

Jim Marnell

Jan 29, 10:40 PM

Got to be the PanRoast Oyster Stew at The Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Grand Central Station. They publish a cook book of their recipes that might show how to make it but why bother, it’s so good there.


Mar 17, 12:38 AM

Split pea soup!

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